The Important Role Saliva Plays in Oral Health

dentist north AustinSaliva is one of those things you never think about … that is until it is absent. The healthy mouth produces saliva day and night. If your mouth feels abnormally dry, your dentist should be consulted to determine the cause for the lack of saliva.

Saliva is the water produced by the salivary glands located in your mouth. Chewing, sucking, any mouth activity will generally induce saliva production. And this moisture has multiple responsibilities.

Saliva allows teeth and tongue to function properly allowing words to be formed correctly. If the mouth is dry or sticky, speaking becomes difficult, lips can become chapped, and your throat may become irritated.

Swallowing is aided by the moisture we produce when chewing. And the content of our “spit” aids in digestion.

Saliva has been coined “nature’s mouthwash” as this natural moisture helps keep the mouth flushed of harmful germs and bacteria. Without this constant flushing action, bad breath, dental decay, and gum disease are possible side effects. The continuous flow of saliva works to protect dental enamel.

What causes a dry mouth? There are some temporary situations like using an antihistamine when suffering from a cold or allergies. This medication is geared to dry up nasal congestion, but it usually does not stop there and can impact saliva production.

Nervousness at times like when preparing to address a crowd can make the mouth go dry.

These situations are temporary, but when your condition becomes more serious or permanent, your dentist can help.

Other more critical medications like those used to control high blood pressure or depression can cause dry mouth. Illness or advancing age can impact saliva production. When dry mouth lasts or becomes severe, this is called xerostomia. Your dentist may be able to change or adjust your medication.

When your mouth feels dry, you can try chewing sugar free gum or sucking on sugar free candy. Your dentist can recommend one of the many rinses available to promote oral moisture. Staying hydrated by consuming water throughout the day is helpful.

Saliva is critical to oral health. Brushing and flossing daily, and getting teeth cleaned by your dental professional every six months are things you can do to maintain dental health. But if you are experiencing an interruption in saliva production, see one of our dentists to improve your health and oral comfort.

Call our practice and set up a consultation with one of our dentists at Balcones Family Dental.

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Top Teeth-Staining Foods and Beverages

cosmetic dentistry Round RockA visit to the dentist results in great looking teeth. But within weeks, teeth can appear discolored or stained. Many people think only coffee or red wine can stain; however, anything you consume that is brightly colored (tomato sauce, beets, and berries) or sugar laden (soda, sports drinks, and candy) just to name a few, have the capability of staining your teeth. A consultation about cosmetic dentistry will provide a solution to match your budget and time frame.

Teeth stains can impact your willingness to eat, speak, and smile in public. After all, our teeth say a lot about us; so if your teeth have become discolored or marred by food stains or lifestyle habits, one brief dental appointment can make a life changing improvement.

Teeth stains can impact your willingness to eat, speak, and smile in public.

Your first dental appointment should be for a hygienic cleaning to remove plaque build-up. An exam will determine whether or not you are a good candidate for the most economical, yet impactful, cosmetic dentistry … teeth whitening.

With Zoom teeth whitening, your dental provider will take all the needed precautions to guarantee a successful outcome. The soft oral tissues are protected before the powerful whitening gel is applied to teeth. A laser is applied to expedite the process.

Our dentist will determine if a second application is needed to maximize the benefit of teeth whitening. But in this one brief appointment, you can expect teeth to be lightened up to eight shades. With Zoom in-office whitening, teeth can continue to brighten up to two weeks following treatment.

There are steps you can take to maintain your new bright smile. Avoiding drinking red wine, coffee, tea, and soda is not practical for many people. So, if you are going to imbibe, use a straw when consuming cold drinks. A straw will allow the beverage to bypass your newly whitened enamel. Never swish or hold beverages before swallowing.

Citrus has the capability to soften dental enamel, so avoid consumption of teeth staining foods and beverages as softened enamel can stain. Do not brush your teeth immediately after consuming citrus as dental enamel can be damaged.

Avoid tobacco products as the teeth are discolored whether smoked or chewed.

Once you have achieved your teeth whitening makeover, you can maintain your new smile by following the instructions of our cosmetic dentist … brush and floss daily and have teeth cleaned professionally every six months.

Call our office at 512-200-7422 to set up your teeth whitening appointment today.

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Common Misconceptions About Dental Health

Austin dentistMisconceptions surrounding dental health pose some of the greatest challenges to dentists and dental clinics. These professionals cannot keep all patients happy and healthy without patient support; they require help from the patients to optimize results in care. Educating patients to eliminate misconceptions goes a long way in establishing or improving overall dental health, which in turn has a positive impact on overall physical health.

Misconceptions regarding dental caries, more commonly known as cavities, leave many patients confused at dental checkups. Many believe that cavities are more common in children, which is far from true. Cavities can occur in any mouth with teeth, whether a child, adult, dog, or cat. Another misconception regarding cavities is their cause, with many believing that cavities come from sugar. While this is somewhat true, table sugar is not the only type of sugar consumed. Any carbohydrates consumed will breakdown into simpler sugars, and all of these can lead to increases in cavities, including carbohydrates from pasta and bread.

Despite the wide availability of dental floss, most dentists have patients that never touch the stuff! Patients complain about floss causing their gums to bleed, but in reality the gums bleed partly from not flossing. Bleeding gums are a sign of periodontal disease or inflammation in the gums. Patients that have sufficient brushing habits, brushing at least twice a day, and flossing at least once a day, experience far less gum irritation and bleeding than those that are less diligent with their at-home oral health habits. These brushing and flossing patients also tend to have easier checkups when visiting the dentist.

More serious misconceptions about dental health can lead to major health concerns. Periodontal disease, for example, if left untreated or if treated insufficiently, will progress and in advanced stages the bloodstream can carry the bacteria from the gums to the heart causing cardiovascular problems, among other potential risks. Likewise, non-dental illnesses and treatments can negatively affect teeth, bones, gums, and other aspects of oral health, leading to discoloration in teeth, weakened bone structure, bone loss, dry mouth, slow healing, or even tooth loss.

Discussing all health concerns with the dentist can improve treatment efforts for better dental and physical health. When patients treat dental health as important to overall health, and vice versa, the whole-body approach to treatment and preventive care is greatly improved. For more information about dental health, contact our skilled specialists at Balcones Family Dental today!

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Tooth Loss Can Have Far-Reaching Effects on Your Dental Health

dental implants north AustinThe loss of a tooth from damage or injury, dental caries (cavities), or for any other reason, leaves a space in the jaw that creates a vulnerable point for the other natural teeth. The roots of teeth help support the structure of the jaw as well as the other teeth, similar to the way the roots of trees extend through and support the earth. Depending on the location, replacing a missing or extracted tooth with a dental implant can have a profound impact on the ability to retain other natural teeth.

Depending on the cause of the missing tooth, other aspects of oral health may be affected if left untreated. The dentist can assess current overall health, with regard to oral health and individual self-care dental habits, then counsel patients for their specific needs. If the tooth loss is due to periodontal disease or severe dental caries, the disease or bacteria could spread beyond the loss of the tooth and affect overall periodontal health and adjacent teeth. Treating at the first signs of trouble will boost likelihood of full recovery from the problem. 

The loss of a tooth from damage or injury, dental caries (cavities), or for any other reason, leaves a space in the jaw that creates a vulnerable point for the other natural teeth.

Tooth loss due to injury or other damage may have caused additional trauma to the adjacent teeth, jawbone, facial nerves, or other tissues in the region. Establishing the cause of the damage or loss of the tooth can help the dentist better treat the individual case for the best success possible. If the tooth loss stems from a non-dental condition or medication that adversely affected the teeth, bones, or tissues, this also must be established to provide opportunity for the dentist to treat and/or counter the adverse effects.

Patients with good overall health and oral health, sufficient jawbone, and healthy gums, are typically good candidates for dental implants. The implant is surgically placed within the jaw then a dental crown is attached to provide the look, feel, and function of a natural tooth. The use of the implant helps to stabilize the remaining teeth, preserve jawbone by reducing the body’s natural tendency to erode jawbone over time, and provide support for the facial muscles and nerve structure to help maintain health. Options are available for those with bone or tissue loss, depending on circumstances.

For more information regarding dental implants, missing teeth, and overall dental health, contact our caring dental specialists at 512-200-7422 today!

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Are there Food Restrictions with Invisalign?

Invisalign north AustinDid you know that the straighter your teeth are, the less likely you are to have tooth decay and gum disease? While some may view a straight smile as an aesthetically pleasing trait, straight and properly positioned teeth promote good oral health, too.

When teeth are crowded or overlapping, tartar buildup tends to accumulate because flossing and brushing teeth is much more difficult. Over time, tartar buildup can lead to gum disease and tooth loss. Our dentist believes that achieving a straight smile is important to oral health, and for this reason, our practice is proud to offer Invisalign.

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign is very different from traditional wire and metal braces. Instead of metal oral appliances, patients will wear a series of retainer-like appliances called aligners. Invisalign aligners are clear and soft, making them a discreet and comfortable alternative to traditional braces.

How does Invisalign work?

Invisalign aligners apply gentle pressure to the teeth, like other forms of orthodontic treatment, to straighten them over time. Every few weeks, patients will receive a new, custom fitted aligner that fits slightly tighter than the previous set.

Is eating and practicing oral hygiene difficult with Invisalign?

Invisalign is very unique when it comes to orthodontic treatment because the aligners are removable. Unlike fixed, traditional braces, patients will take out their aligners during oral hygiene and meals. This allows patients to enjoy all their favorite foods without worrying about breaking a wire or bracket. Tough and chewy foods are no longer off limits. Patients can also easily keep their mouths clean and free of debris from food.

What is involved with receiving treatment with Invisalign?

If you’re interested in Invisalign, the first step you should take is to schedule a consultation with our experienced dentist. During your appointment, our dentist will evaluate the placement of your teeth and your bite to determine if Invisalign is best for your needs. Our team will also answer questions and concerns you may have.

To reserve your consultation, contact Balcones Family Dental today.

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What Kind of Bite Issues Can Invisalign Correct?

 Invisalign Cedar ParkA patient’s bite, also called an occlusion, refers to how the upper and lower arches of teeth line up when the mouth is closed. Bite issues or malocclusions can have significant effects on oral health. Besides straightening teeth, one of the major objectives involved with orthodontic treatment is to correct malocclusions to prevent damage to teeth, gums, and the temporomandibular joint. To help prevent the far-reaching effects a bite issue can have on oral health, our dentist offers Invisalign to straighten teeth and correct malocclusions.

How a Misaligned Bite Affects Oral Health

When teeth do not align properly, patients typically experience unnecessary tooth wear. As the teeth scrape against each other, tiny cracks will form in tooth enamel and teeth will eventually become weaker. Weak teeth are susceptible to decay and fracture. In addition to weakening teeth, a bad bite can also strain the joint that connects the skull and jaw (the TMJ) and its surrounding tissues. As the TMJ forces the mouth to a healthier position over time, the joint and facial muscles fatigue and patients hold a higher risk for developing TMJ dysfunction. Dysfunction of the TMJ can produce severe discomfort in some patients—especially in the form of facial pain and headaches.

How Invisalign Can Help

Like braces, Invisalign straightens teeth over time. Patients wear clear aligners that apply force to the teeth to correct misalignments. Invisalign can help improve bite issues such as over bites and under bites along with straightening gapped, crooked, crowded, and overlapped teeth. Unlike traditional braces, however, Invisalign is very discreet and removable. Very popular among teenagers and adults, Invisalign allows patients to remove their aligners during oral hygiene and meals. Since the aligners are clear, Invisalign is a very inconspicuous method for achieving a healthier and straighter smile.

To learn more about Invisalign, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with our experienced dental team. At your appointment, we can determine if this type of orthodontic treatment is best for your situation.

Call us today at 512-200-7422 to book a consultation.

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Is Invisalign an orthodontic treatment for adults?

 Invisalign Round RockInvisalign is an alternative to traditional orthodontic treatments, such as braces, available for many patients including adults. In traditional orthodontic treatments with braces, brackets are bonded to the surfaces of teeth and connected by a wire that is replaced and adjusted regularly to achieve the desired movement and results. In contrast, Invisalign uses custom-made aligners that fit snuggly over teeth, gradually shifting teeth to a more functional position without the need for traditional hardware.

Adults that meet criteria for orthodontic treatment can discuss options with a dentist or orthodontist. In many cases, the dentist refers the adult patient to orthodontists for consultation and to learn about the options available for the individual case. When Invisalign is a possibility, the process is explained during the consultation to ensure the adult patient fully understands the process, options, and predicted timeline.

With Invisalign, impressions are taken of the top and bottom teeth to assess current positions and alignments. Custom-made aligners are created using clear plastic, with gradual adjustments to the positions and orientations of teeth for a more functional and aesthetic alignment. The clear aligners provide a virtually invisible treatment option that many adult patients prefer to traditional hardware braces, and the aligners provide a host of benefits and conveniences for only minimal additional effort.

Dentists instruct patients to remove the Invisalign aligners when eating, to prevent damage from pressure and impact, as well as protect the clear aligners from staining. This also protects teeth from staining as food and deeply pigmented beverages can become trapped within the aligners, maintaining contact with teeth. After eating or drinking, teeth are cleaned and aligners are cleaned, then the aligners are replaced over the teeth for continued treatment progress. The ability to remove the Invisalign aligners also enables better oral hygiene and self-care throughout the treatment process.

Unlike traditional braces that come with restrictions regarding certain foods, the Invisalign aligners are removed to eat thereby eliminating restrictions. Although some discomfort is normal as teeth move, regular eating habits are general easy to maintain throughout the Invisalign process. To learn more about treatment options and Invisalign, contact our skilled dental team at Balcones Family Dental today!

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Smoking and Your Dental Health

 north Austin dentistApart from the visual damage caused to teeth from smoking, there are many dental health issues that stem from smoking behaviors and a dentist will encourage smoking patients to quit for improved overall oral health. Visual signs of smoking are hard to conceal, including but not limited to stained and discolored teeth, chronic bad breath, abnormal tartar buildup on teeth, receding gums, and a condition known as “smoker’s lip” that occurs over time resembling a burn.

Receding gums expose the more sensitive parts of teeth that should remain protected by health gum tissue. When the gums recede, teeth often develop sensitivity, especially to hot and cold temperatures, but also to contact. The lost gum tissue can include periodontal disease such as gingivitis, as well. It is estimated that smoking accounts for approximately half of all gum disease cases. These and other related symptoms are observed by a dentist at routine checkups and standout as obvious signs of smoking in a patient. 

Apart from the visual damage caused to teeth from smoking, there are many dental health issues that stem from smoking behaviors…

Smoking increases the bacteria in the mouth, allowing an increase in cavities, sores, bad breath, infection and disease.  While these can occur in non-smoking patients, they tend to occur more readily and progress more rapidly in smokers. Moreover, the taste buds can be altered from smoking, causing a decrease in taste sensation or altered taste sensation. A dentist can discuss these details with individual patients to assess the current state of overall oral and dental health, and help establish a plan to quit.

In more severe cases, oral cancers can occur from the damage caused by cigarette smoking. Teeth shifting or movement, bone loss in jawbones, missing teeth, and slower healing rates are also seen in lifelong smokers. Tobacco products reduce the flow of oxygenated blood to the gums and inhibit the ability to maintain dental and oral health. This is seen in cigarette smokers, but also in users of chewing tobacco, pipe smokers, cigar smokers, and drug users, recreational or otherwise.

For information on smoking cessation and improving dental health, contact our caring dental specialists at 512-200-7422 today.

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Is Zoom Teeth Whitening Safe?

Zoom teeth whitening AustinZoom teeth whitening is a dental procedure where the patient can enjoy whiter, brighter teeth in one brief dental appointment.

The process generally involves teeth being clinically cleaned to remove topical stain and dental plaque. The dentist will complete an exam to make sure the patient meets the minimal requirements for teeth whitening. It is usually recommended the patient be eighteen years of age; there is no active dental decay; there are no broken teeth or hairline cracks; excessive gum recession is not present … these dental conditions can mean the patient will experience sensitivity during the teeth whitening procedure.

Once the patient meets dental qualifications, it will be determined that any desired cosmetic dentistry will be completed after teeth whitening so your new cosmetic restoration will be color matched to your newly whitened biological teeth.

With Zoom teeth whitening, the patient can go from dull and drab to Hollywood WOW by lightening teeth up to eight shades.

The patient will get their new look underway with their dental professional placing protection on the soft mouth tissues to prevent burns (Zoom teeth whitening contains the most powerful whitening agents available, which is why it must be distributed by your dentist). The whitening gel is applied and teeth are subjected to a laser or curing light to expedite the process.

For many patients, one application will achieve the desired result; however, if needed a second application can be completed during the same session.

With Zoom teeth whitening, teeth can continue to lighten for up to two weeks following this in-office treatment so final results may not be immediately realized.

Zoom teeth whitening is completely safe. In addition to oral protection during application, eyewear is provided. In addition, your in-office treatment is administered by a trained dental professional … this means any concerns or questions you may have are addressed immediately. This benefit is not available with whitening products purchased online or at the drugstore.

Zoom also offers take-home whitening for individuals who wish to lighten their teeth at their own pace in the privacy of home. Guidance from your dentist is still available as this product is only distributed by a dental professional.

Touch up kits are available for both in-office and take home Zoom whitening that can be used as needed to keep your new smile bright.

Contact our cosmetic dentistry team at Balcones Family Dental for more information about teeth whitening today.

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